Trump lawyers say hush money gag order stifles campaign

Donald Trump's
Donald Trump's lawyers argue his hush money gag order might limit him in a coming election debate.

Donald Trump's Donald Trump's lawyers argue his hush money gag order might limit him in a coming election debate. Photo: Getty

Donald Trump’s lawyers have urged the judge who oversaw his hush money trial to lift a gag order now that he has been convicted, arguing his opponents were using the restrictions on the former US president’s speech as a “political sword”.

In a court filing earlier this week, defence lawyers Todd Blanche and Emil Bove noted that Democratic President Joe Biden’s campaign had referred to Trump, the Republican candidate, as a “convicted felon” in a May 30 statement.

They said the order might limit Trump’s ability to respond to attacks from Biden during their June 27 presidential debate.

“President Trump’s opponents and adversaries are using the Gag Order as a political sword to attack President Trump with reference to this case, on the understanding that his ability to mount a detailed response is severely restricted,” Bove and Blanche wrote.

A Manhattan jury on May 30 found Trump, 77, guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s $US130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels for her silence before the 2016 election about a sexual encounter she says they had a decade earlier.

It was the first-ever criminal trial of a US president, past or present.

Trump denies having sex with Daniels and has vowed to appeal the verdict after his July 11 sentencing.

Before the trial began in April, Justice Juan Merchan restricted Trump’s public statements about jurors, witnesses and others involved in the case.

Prosecutors argued Trump’s history of making threatening statements showed he could derail proceedings in the case unless the judge acted.

The order does not limit Trump’s comments about the case in general. During the trial, Merchan fined Trump $US1000 for each of 10 violations of the gag order.

Those included a social media post in which he called Cohen a “serial liar” and an interview in which he said, “that jury was picked so fast – 95 per cent Democrats”.

Prosecutors in a one-page letter last week urged the judge to keep the gag order in place at least through his sentencing, arguing he was still obligated to “protect the integrity of these proceedings”. They are expected to follow up with a more complete filing in the coming weeks.


Topics: Donald Trump
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